Have you wondered if you have enough space to safely install a pottery kiln for home or if you can turn an existing space into a kiln room? If you have, then we are here to help.
In this article, we will look at where you can put a kiln, the things you need to consider when picking a kiln location, and answer a few of the most pertinent questions we hear related to installing a kiln.
Let’s jump right in.
Where Can I Safely Put My Kiln?
People put kilns in all kinds of locations, but just because something has been done doesn’t mean it is a good idea. In this section, we look at the pros and cons of many of the most often suggestions we see for locating a kiln in your home.
Be aware that most residential buildings were never intended to have kilns installed in them. This means that your home shop will likely entail some modifications to its electrical and ventilation systems.
See Also: How Much Electricity Does a Kiln Use?
Garage or Basement
Most manufacturers will suggest that you take your garage or basement and turn it into a kiln room. The reasoning behind this is that most basements and garages are large open spaces that are separated, for the most part, from living areas.
Another advantage that these kiln room options offer is that the majority already have a concrete floor. This can save you a lot of time and expense in creating a kiln room.
All of these factors make a basement or garage a perfectly logical kiln location. What must be remembered when considering a basement or garage kiln room is how well you can ventilate the area. This can especially be a concern when a basement is converted to a kiln room.
There is heat build-up that can affect your utility cost and comfort. More importantly, toxic fumes that can negatively impact your and your family’s health can be trapped and migrate into living areas.
See Also: How Much Does a Kiln Cost?
Most garages have large doors that can be opened, and this risk factor is more easily reduced by simply running fans. Many garages, though, are completely enclosed with little to no access to the outside air.
Always remember that beyond the requirements, we will discuss later how much room air has to move is always a primary concern.
Other In-House Locations
Take a look around the internet, and you will find many blobbers and bloggers who have installed kilns in their kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas within the main living space of their homes.
While every situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis, this is not a practice we could endorse with any level of comfort.
Even small 120-volt single-phase kilns can emit noxious fumes that you really don’t want your family breathing. If you live in an apartment or have a home with very limited space, our recommendation is to rent kiln time until your living situation changes.
Keeping a kiln outdoors is a thorny issue. Most kiln manufacturers flat out say, don’t do it. There are, however, many experienced potters who have used outdoor kilns for years. Some things to keep in mind if you are considering placing a kiln, especially an electric kiln, outdoors would be
Water and Electricity don’t mix
You must provide an electrical supply that is impervious to moister and assures that your kiln is protected from rain, snow, etc. This includes being sure that all controls are protected from condensation.
Kilns can be sensitive to the weather more than you may realize. Kilns that receive direct sunlight or that are located in very hot regions can overheat.
At the same time, kilns are not fond of cold weather. Many kilns with an electronic control panel will lock if the temperature approaches freezing. If nothing else, in colder climates, your kiln will have to work much harder to reach and maintain firing temperatures.
This can greatly shorten the life of your coils and increase the operating costs of even gas kilns.
The wind is an often-overlooked risk when it comes to operating a kiln outdoors. Firstly Kilns cool significantly faster when there are large volumes of air moving across them. While this may seem like a bonus, it can affect the nature of your finished works negatively.
More importantly, the wind tends to move things around. Leaves, paper, plastics, and flammable materials that could be blown on or near your kiln can create a serious fire risk.
Always erring on the side of safety, we don’t recommend using a kiln outdoors.
Purpose Built Shop
The final and best option in our option is to have a purpose-built kiln room constructed. This could be as a home addition or a freestanding structure off on its own.
This is, of course, the most expensive option, but it is also the most desirable. You can have the electrical supply designed with the needed amperage supply without the worry of the additional amp draw overloading your household circuit boards.
You can also have outlets installed with any particular plug configuration that you may need or want and have all circuits designed with the proper phase power supply for what each section of the room will be used for.
You can install air conditioning that can compensate for the heat of your kiln without being overly taxed and assure that you have proper kiln clearances, storage, and working space.
Considerations When Choosing Kiln Location
There are a number of areas of concern that should be taken into account when choosing a kiln location in your home. Here, we will look at what we consider to be the most vital things to keep in mind when trying t pick a location for your kiln.
Local Building Code
One of the first things you will want to look at when choosing a location for your kiln will be the local building codes. In many areas, there are specific regulations that must be met if an appliance draws more than a certain amount of current or produces heat beyond a certain temperature. In some locals, there are codes that apply only to kilns.
Most building codes refer to manufacturers’ recommendations for spacing and similar standards, but in some areas, like large urban centers, items like a sprinkler system may be required, and some codes may change depending on how the whole building structure is configured.
Building codes can vary greatly from state to state or even city to city. Contacting a local building inspector for help is highly advised.
Homeowner’s Insurance Policy
A second consideration to look at before you even begin to shop for kilns is your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy. Some policies may require a special rider to be purchased. Others may not allow a kiln to be installed period, and others may have special conditions that must be met before a kiln can be operated in the home.
Some conditions that we have seen set are the use of outlets with a particular plug configuration, installation of extra ground wire or breaker box requirements, and even limitations on power cord length.
Not checking and meeting your insurance company’s requirements can cause your home’s insurance policy to be voided. This could be an expensive error even if you only suffer storm damage completely unrelated to the presence of the kiln.
Space (Proper Kiln Clearances, Storage, Heating, Etc.)
Space is a primary concern when deciding where to place a kiln. You must have enough space in your kiln room to allow proper clearance around your kin for it to breathe properly and not create a safety hazard.
Combustible walls are obviously not a good idea, and even if your walls are sheetrock or cinderblock, proper clearances should still be maintained.
In most cases, this will mean eighteen inches of space on all sides of your kiln. You should also be able to have sufficient space to make sure your kiln is far enough away from any doors or windows that moister will not contact it.
Lastly, your kiln should be in a heated space. We have already discussed how cool temperatures can affect and even stop your kiln from functioning properly. Because of this, it should not be in an unheated building. Even in more temperate climates, a space heater may be needed to ensure proper operations and avoid shortening the life of your kiln’s heating elements.
You also want o to assure that you have sufficient space for storage of fired ware away from the kiln and for unfired works to dry.
Power Supply for Electric Kilns
The majority of kilns that people install in their homes are electric kilns, and one of the most complicated subjects related to placing a kiln in your home is the power supply to power them.
There are i20-volt, single-phase kilns with a standard plug attached that are basically plug and play, but these are the exception rather than the rule. They are also restricted to small, low-power models with limited usefulness.
A word of caution on these kiln models. Just because the plug attached fits the socket doesn’t mean the electrical circuit is designed to handle the amps drawn by the kiln. Having an electrician check your wiring and breaker box is always a good idea.
Beyond them lies an entire world of different possible electrical options. Most kilns designed for home and small shop use will require a 240-volt, 2-phase power supply. However, there are kilns on the market that need a 208, 380, or 480-volt power supply, and these could be in single, double, or three-phase.
Our best advice is to consult a licensed electrician with knowledge of local codes before purchasing a kiln and seeking their help with the installation.
Ventilation is double plays two roles. One is preventing the build-up of noxious gases and fumes in your kiln room. Some of these gases can be very harmful to your health.
The other purpose ventilation serves is to prevent heat build-up. This often overlooked aspect can be just as important as controlling exposure to toxic gases. It can be very uncomfortable to work in an overheated space and can be dangerous.
Allowing heat to build up is also not good for your equipment. Kilns cool significantly faster when the ambient temperature is maintained in the mid-seventies. Beyond this, excessive heat is not good for a kiln’s circuit board.
If your shop area is sufficiently open, like in a garage, then you may be able to keep it properly ventilated with regular household fans. If your setup is more confined, you may need to consider buying a kiln with its own built-in ventilation system or having an exhaust hood installed over your kiln
There are many options available, and most major kiln manufacturers have ventilation systems specifically designed to be used with their kilns.
Needless to say, wood floors or linoleum are not good ideas under a kiln. Heat will radiate from the bottom.
All flooring used around a kiln should be non-combustive, with concrete or heavy ceramic tile being the best option. For those on a tighter budget or limited in the changes, they can make to an area, sheets of cement board are an option.
The entire area under the kiln and extending 12-18 inches completely around the kiln should be fireproofed.
The last area of concern we will mention is to be sure to consider your future needs. Are you opening a home shop that may someday need another kiln? If you are in a shared space, will others need access to additional outlets? Are you going to add another vehicle that may require a part of your working area?
Answering these questions and dozens of more before you begin can help you avoid sticky situations later on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put a kiln in my garage?
Yes, you can put a kiln in your garage. That is, if you have enough space to provide proper clearances, your electrical system is sufficient or can be modified to carry the load, and your garage can be ventilated to prevent the build-up of toxic gases and heat.
Can a kiln be kept outside?
Can and should be are two very different things. Kilns can be kept outside, but they must be protected from exposure to moisture. They are also subject to being affected by heat, cold, wind, sunshine, and rain. This is on top of the safety issues that can arise in any exposed area.
You can keep your kiln outside, but we advise against it.
Can I put a kiln in my room?
Yes, you can put a kiln in your room, but it is not the best option. First, you will need to be sure that your electrical system can handle the load.
Then you will need to make sure that the flooring under where the kiln will be is made of non-combustible materials like concrete or ceramic tiles.
You will also need to make sure you have sufficient space. Most kiln manufacturers specify eighteen inches of clearance around their kilns, but that is a minimum requirement, and two feet is a safer number.
Lastly, you will need to ensure your room has sufficient ventilation to prevent noxious fumes and heat from building up or escaping into other parts of your home.
How far away from the wall should a kiln be?
Most kiln manufacturers consider eighteen inches of clearance to be sufficient. We consider this minimum clearance. No one likes to waste space, but we always err on the side of safety when possible.
I’m Jessica and I’m obsessed with kilns. I’ve been doing pottery from when I was a little girl and I created TypesOfKilns to help people find the right kiln for their needs.